A group of young people leave a bad disco party and follow the advice of one of them to join her in her place in the countryside. But then they meet a strange man, Joseph, who has an evening of Satan worshipping planned.
Release Date: 2007 | Runtime: 1hr 34 min | Genre: Horror | Language: French | Source: Shudder | Unstarred Review | Content warnings at end of review under spoiler tag.
What in the backwoods French sister-loving fuck did I just watch?
This movie is such an absolute mess, I genuinely don’t think I have a single positive thing to say about it except, I guess, good job Vincent Cassel on acting like an absolute unhinged person? Seriously, his acting is the only thing that made this film even a little bit bearable.
Sheitan opens with a bunch of assholes doing asshole things in a club on Christmas Eve. One of them gets hit in the face with a bottle, resulting in our unlovable group of human asswipes leaving the club and, on the suggestion of random-bar-girl-they-just-met Eve, driving overnight to her family’s creepy as fuck country “estate” (though not before robbing a gas station and driving like maniacs through the city, to really reinforce their asswipe status). I was immediately hopeful that they’d all meet terrible, gruesome ends.
Of course – what creepy country estate is complete without an even creepier caretaker?! Enter Vincent Cassel as Joseph, a backwoods yokel with no sense of personal space or appropriate conduct. Once again this movie decides to really lean into making every single character as unlikeable and unsympathetic as possible, so Joseph likes to casually pepper slurs into conversation with our asshole characters, while getting into everyone’s personal bubbles with the most batshit crazy expression imaginable on his face. Really, kudos to Cassel for maintaining that face throughout, I would have been worried about it sticking.
If this movie’s only crime were having unlikeable characters, I could have forgiven it, but that is hardly Sheitan’s only sin. This movie clearly tries SO HARD to be shocking, but it does so in ways that add nothing to the extremely thin excuse for a plot, while also going for it in the most distasteful manner possible. We get a bunch of side characters who are clearly meant to be the product of incest, though it is never explicitly stated. There are the aforementioned constant slurs. Someone jerks off a dog. It isn’t interesting, it isn’t scary, it’s just gross.
The plot of Sheitan is verging on nonexistent. Once they get to this creepy house, the story mostly focuses on the two guys trying to get their dicks wet, with the third wheel douchebag also attempting to get it in but mostly just being creepily followed around by Joseph. The house is filled with dolls, allegedly from Eve’s father’s former business. The guests are told to try to be quiet, because Joseph’s very pregnant wife is resting in the house. We then get a LONG scene of weird shit at a hot spring where a bunch of the implied-incest offspring get naked and flail a lot. We get a weird Christmas dinner scene in which the characters discuss the devil and incest (oh, and we get some new slurs! YAY!!!!) because that’s normal dinner conversation, right? We get Joseph tongue-fucking his pregnant wife’s bellybutton as she has contractions.
And yet despite all this fuckery, at no point do these characters, who are COMPLETE AND TOTAL FUCKING STRANGERS to Eve and her merry band of cousinbrothers, even consider leaving until the other girl’s bed is filled with locusts (or something? I’m not an entomologist, they were bugs of some description). Of course at that point it’s too late and things get violent – which, for the record, at this point we are at the 1 hour 5 minute mark of a 1 hour and 34 minute long film. That’s right. Credits included, we get 29 minutes of actual action, and some of that is also dedicated to a flashback/dream sequence of the opening scenes.
Sheitan’s premise comes with promises of extreme satanic cult shenanigans, but it never really delivers on any aspect of those promises. Instead what the viewer is left with is this try-hard film filled to the brim with assholes and nonsense, and not in a particularly fun way. Cassel is good, as is to be expected, but nowhere near good enough to carry this disaster of a film.